CHILDREN'S LITERATURE, FAMILIES AND EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION: WAYS OF EXPERIENCING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
1 Polytechnic of Viseu, School of Education and CI&DEI (PORTUGAL)
2 Polytechnic of Viseu, School of Education (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Conference name: 14th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2022
Location: Palma, Spain
Abstract:During the lockdowns related to COVID-19, several early childhood education teachers in Portugal maintain contact with children and their families, and a pedagogical focus directed those interactions (European Comission, 2021; Mesquita et al., 2020). The impact of that experience for all participants is being researched around topics like threats to the quality of life and wellness, pressure on families and intensification of inequities, and changes in teaching methods and reliance on technology (Jalongo, 2021). From the experience of a student-teacher whose practicum integrated two periods of distance learning with a group of children, this study reports on the way teachers and parents experienced the use of Children’s Literature during the lockdown. It was developed as a small-scale practitioner research involving the 21 children from 3 to 6 years old and the three adults in the staff together with parents from 10 of the children. The purposes and procedures of the study were made clear to all participants who then agreed to participate. The data were collected through participant observation with reflexive notes, photographs, informal interviews with adults from the teaching staff and a survey answered by 10 parents coupled with small informal talks with 2 of them. The data were analyzed through a thematic content analysis that looked for common themes across all the data in the pool.
The purpose of the study was to understand the changes brought by the lockdown in the way children contacted and interacted with books and storytelling in moments purposefully created by adults. The results revealed the importance awarded by all adults to the idea of a routine as a structure for time that provides security and allows anticipation and participation by the children. Children’s Literature was connected to routines both in the home environment and at the early childhood education center. Time and routines were mentioned as something that was disrupted by the lockdown with consequences for the children and to the adults. The teachers expressed difficulties in maintaining the central role of Children’s Literature in their distance interactions with the children, although storytelling was included as an activity for the synchronous moments that were provided. This was felt as very different from the collective, engaging, participated, expressive moments of storytelling that happened in-person. Parents acknowledged that storytelling had become more important during the lockdowns with more time allocated to sharing books with their children.
Understanding complex situations like the pandemic require different approaches. This small study contributes with the experience of a group of children and their parents around the specific topic of Children’s Literature. It proved to be a manifestation not only of pedagogical work but also of the emotional aspects of care that embodied early childhood education. This conclusion connects with previous research on Children's Literature and its role in children's learning, as well as being involved in promoting positive relationships.
Keywords: Children's literature, early childhood education, covid, routine, family.